In part one of our digital maturity series, we discussed change management best practices. In part two of our series, we will explore the role of upskilling and training for retaining and attracting talent.
Recently, Amazon made waves with the announcement of its pledge to upskill 100,000 employees by 2025. This impressive investment in employee training represents a broader trend taking place across industries: to equip employees with new skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly automated world.
In the title & escrow industry, organizations are taking note and taking similar measures to ensure employees are equipped with new skills as the industry advances toward more digital and automated processes. For example, North American Title Insurance Company recently launched NATIC University, an educational platform within its agent portal designed to educate agents on important industry topics ranging from cyber intelligence to customer relationship management.
The potential cost of learning and development (L&D) programs may feel out of reach for many title & escrow companies; however, the costs of L&D programs don’t need to be high and the impact can’t be understated. When executed correctly, L&D programs are a worthwhile investment that can yield tangible returns.
The Future of Work
Once again, Amazon is leading the charge toward what’s next. Amazon’s decision to retrain its workforce demonstrates a need across all industries to equip employees with new skills necessary for “Industry 4.0” — a term used to describe the future of work in which automation will enable employees to utilize human traits such as creativity, problem-solving, and leadership to work alongside machine activities.
According to McKinsey & Company, the coming wave of automation will impact the workforce across some of the largest occupational categories in the US. It’s not a matter of “robot takeover” but rather a shifting of responsibilities among the workforce. Employees who manage tasks that can be automated will need to expand their skill sets to deliver value in new ways within their organizations.
L&D programs are key to this workforce transformation. As McKinsey’s “Future of Work in America” report notes: “Training can no longer end when workers are in their twenties and carry them through the decades.” Employers are natural providers of continued education and can supply their employees with the necessary training to keep pace with new innovation. With this in mind, businesses across sectors are beginning to reevaluate their workplace offerings to invest in L&D programs for employees.
Upskilling & Training the Title Workforce
In the title industry, the need for soft skill training is heightened by increased competition. A recent PropLogix report indicates that title & escrow processors, CEOs, and owners say their top challenges are “not having enough time, juggling too many responsibilities, and finding new ways to generate business.”
Software solutions are a necessity for streamlining workflows and automating processes; however, without proper training, the time-saving and efficiency benefits of software tools become null. Title & escrow companies that effectively onboard their employees onto new systems and continue to offer software training and support will make the most of their software investment and see efficiency gains. For example, title & escrow professionals on Qualia’s platform receive online learning tools and training videos. These training tools are utilized during onboarding and can be referenced when an agent faces a novel situation and needs a refresher on the software functionality for a particular workflow.
In addition to software training, title & escrow professionals are in increasing need of “soft skill” development. As indicated by PropLogix’s survey, title agents are often expected to bring in new business while simultaneously managing their day-to-day title processing work. Title & escrow companies that offer training on customer relationship management, business development, goal-setting, and other “soft skills” will provide their workforce with the necessary skills to think creatively and thrive in today’s increasingly competitive real estate market.
Training as a Tool for Attracting and Retaining Talent
Not only can L&D programs help prepare the title workforce for technology changes and new responsibilities, these programs can also help businesses attract and retain talent. According to a 2018 Learning Report, 93% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, both the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations desire opportunities for growth. According to a Deloitte survey of more than 13,000 millennials, 49% of millennials plan to quit their current job in the next two years. A top reason for their departure? A lack of learning and development opportunities. Title companies that expand their training programs will both attract and retain a growing workforce of advancement-minded professionals.
Baby Boomers too are interested in L&D programs. According to a Harvard Business Review study, almost 60% of people over the age of 45 said they are actively investing in learning new skills at work. Title & escrow companies that demonstrate a commitment to continued learning will retain their valuable, tenured employees while also attracting the next generation of title professionals.
Creating a Learning & Development Program, Where to Start?
In the past few years, technology companies specializing in upskilling and L&D programs have popped up to help businesses of all types and sizes provide best-in-class learning tools for their employees. Udemy is one such on-demand learning platform. We reached out to Udemy’s Head of Learning and Development, Shelley Osborne, to hear more about Udemy’s approach to L&D and the research her team has conducted to understand workplace learning preferences. Udemy’s research indicates a few best practices title companies of any size can leverage to get an L&D program off the ground.
- Give employees a solid start with effective onboarding. Udemy’s research finds that 79% of employees believe onboard training “accelerates time to productivity.” New employees say they desire content and training around business processes, productivity tools, and background on the business’ organizational structure for a confident start.
- Incorporate soft skill training. Between 2017 and 2018, respondents of Udemy’s workplace survey were 10% less likely to cite tech skills as the “most valuable” skillset for employment. Today, employees are increasingly citing “soft skills” such as leadership and productivity as “most valuable” to employers. As technology advances, technical fluency is important; however, employees will also need to keep pace with the demand for the changing capacity of their roles toward more adaptable skills such as relationship management, leadership, and business development.
- Provide go-at-your-own pace learning tools. According to Osborne, most employees value flexibility in L&D programs. “At Udemy, this means giving employees access to learning content whenever they need it — whether that’s during their morning workout, while they’re in the office, or on their evening commute,” Osborne said. “Recent research we conducted found that 42% of employees say they would be more engaged if they were empowered to learn new skills. We feel like giving employees the time, space, and flexibility to learn makes all the difference.”
- Involve managers and leadership. “The value of managers and other leaders being supportive of L&D and continuous upskilling cannot be overstated,” Osborne said. At Udemy, a learning mindset is engrained in the company culture and promoted from the top-down. “A priority during the leadership hiring process is to ensure that new hires are culture adds and bring a passion and curiosity for learning.”
Prioritizing Learning Regardless of Budget
According to Osborne, learning should be prioritized in every organization’s budget. “For organizations to stay competitive, employees must be experts in their fields and drive true value for the business. A major threat to employees in achieving that goal is the increased speed of innovation that every field, industry, and role is experiencing,” she noted. “That said, I understand that no one has an unlimited budget. The good news is that we’re living in a time when there’s never been greater access to learning content. So many cost-effective resources are available online, and there are so many ways to embed learning in your culture.”
Any title or escrow company can get started with minimal resources by creating and championing informal knowledge sharing or mentorship programs within their organization. Osborne also recommends regular feedback sessions as a starting point. “Giving employees the opportunity to practice having feedback conversations with real workplace scenarios and giving practical tips on how to receive feedback can make a tangible difference at every level within an organization,” she said.
Lastly, title & escrow companies can leverage the training tools provided by their technology partners to upskill their employees on the technology at their disposal.